Leslie Turk

Palates & Paté sends out an SOS

by Leslie Turk

Palates & Paté, the primary fundraiser for the Acadiana Outreach Center, is in desperate need of help for this year’s event. The annual fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center is far from reaching its financial goal.

Despite that the economic downturn has not affected our community as severely as many others across the country, Acadiana Outreach and similar organizations are feeling the sting.

Giving to American charities has dropped significantly this year, the Associated Press reported yesterday, and there are few signs the Christmas season will be any different. “In light of the economic downturn, only 38 percent of Americans say they are more likely to give a charitable gift as a holiday present this year, compared to 49 percent last year, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive,” the AP noted. “The survey did find, however, that 74 percent of Americans plan to increase their charitable giving once the economy improves.”

Read the full story here.

Generous major local sponsors like LGMC, Cocentric Pipe & Tool Rentals, IberiaBank, Giles Automotive, Jefferson StreetMarket, Republic National Distributing, Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital, LHC Group, Dwight Andrus Insurance, the Lemoine Company and Paul’s Jewelry have continued their support of the organization (see tomorrow’s LivingIND cover story for more details on the stunning necklace, pictured below, that the local jewelry store designed and fabricated for the live auction), but it’s not too late to support the event either through a donation or by purchasing a ticket.

For the first time in Palates & Paté’s 9-year history, individual ticket sales are being heavily promoted, says Community Relations Director Amanda Toups, noting that in the past last-minute tickets would sometimes be available to individuals at a cost of $250. This year that price was slashed to $125.

The event pairs distinguished regional artists with premier area chefs, a collaborative effort that produces a unique piece of art and a signature dish that reflects the artwork. The art is auctioned, and the food is served at the event. The auction also includes vacations and adventure packages to exotic locales.

About 30 percent of Acadiana Outreach Center’s operating budget is funded by Palates & Paté, with donations used as matching funds to draw $11.4 million in federal dollars into our community since the fundraiser’s inception in 2001. For more information on the center’s work and programs, click here. Below is a glimpse into the organization’s work since the fundraiser was launched nine years ago:

Increased clients served by 380 percent:
• Provided 10,884 low-income adults and 2,450 children with case management, rental assistance and other stabilizing services
• Opened the Lighthouse Women’s & Children’s shelter, helping 810 women and 378 children since 2004
• Graduated 100+ clients from addictions recovery to live fulfilling and independent lives

Significant economic and community impact:
• Reinvested funds in employing people, providing services to help clients become tax-paying residents, paying rents to local landlords, and purchasing from local businesses
• Shifted from providing shelter to addressing root causes of addiction and lack of safe, affordable housing

Transitioned from a traditional charity solely dependent on donations to a social enterprise:
• Provided market-based solution by launching a 128-bed behavioral health center helping Louisiana residents of all backgrounds overcome addiction and mental illness (December 2009)
• Catalyzing $25 million in mixed-income housing development (2009-2011)
• Secured U.S. Congressional seed funding for urban revitalization model (2007, 2009)

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 237-7618. Tickets will also be sold at the door.